Sir Antony Pilkington's first car 1951 HRG 1500 Sports Two-Seater Registration no. LXO 991 Chassis no. W206 Engine no. C13255
In 1935, ten years after the dissolution of the GN cyclecar company, the 'G' - H R Godfrey - was back in business with new partners E A Halford and G H Robins, the trio adopting the name 'HRG' for their new firm. The aim was to build a lightweight vintage-style sporting car endowed with the virtues of brisk acceleration and positive steering, and in this they succeeded brilliantly. With its sturdy yet flexible ladder-type frame, tubular front axle, ash-framed alloy coachwork and 1½-litre Meadows engine, the little HRG proved an instant success in competitions. The Meadows 4ED's 58bhp combined with an overall weight of less than 1,600lbs (approximately 727kgs) meant that 50mph came up in under 10 seconds with 85mph exceedable under favourable conditions, an excellent performance for a 1½-litre car of the period.
Known to owners and enthusiasts as 'Hurgs', HRGs embodied the principal virtues of the ideal sports car, being amenable to daily use yet capable of showing a decent turn of speed in weekend competitions: the 'Holy Grail' of the gentleman driver.
With the Meadows engine at the end of its development an alternative was needed and the firm turned to Singer, adopting a tuned and upgraded version of the overhead-camshaft Singer 12 engine for the '1500' and a similarly-revised Singer 9 engine for a new model - the '1100' - both of which were introduced in 1939. Production of both of these essentially 1930s designs continued post-war with the '1500' achieving a degree of competition success, the highlight being John Gott's Coupe des Alpes in the 1951 Alpine Rally. Development though, was almost non-existent hydraulic brakes were not standardised until 1953 and the promising Twin-Cam, which used the Singer engine as its basis, fell foul of Rootes' take-over of the Coventry manufacturer in 1956. Around 240 of HRG's traditional models had been made by the time production ceased that same year, of which approximately 225 survive today.
One of 156 '1500' roadsters produced, this example was Sir Antony Pilkington's first car which he acquired in 1953. Having sold the car a few years later, he then re-acquired the car in December 1974 via Roland Duce of Leicestershire. Sir Antony bought the car from a Dr Gibb of Chigwell, Essex, who had owned it since August 1966. In a note on file written circa 1980, Sir Antony had this to say about his HRG: 'Car very original, I was its second owner in 1953 (my first car) and re-purchased it in 1974. It cost £675 in 1953 and £2,875 in 1974!'
In July 1995 Sir Antony attended the HRG 60th anniversary meeting at Loton Park, Shropshire having competed in 'LXO 991' in the Norwich Union Classic in 1988. Bills on file indicate that during the mid-1980s the engine (the car's original) underwent a complete rebuild by W I Mahany of Teeslake Ltd/South Harpenden Cars, Hertfordshire. Always MoT'd locally to Sir Antony's residence, the car comes with 32 expired certificates dating back to February 1976 (at 9,864 miles). The current MoT certificate (expires January 2013) records the mileage at time of issue as 13,821.
Finished in British Racing Green with black interior, 'LXO 991' is a tidy 'older restoration' which is presented in good order apart from some minor cosmetic blemishes. The car is taxed for the road until January 2013 and is running well.
This rare British sports car, eligible for almost all the major 'retrospectives', is offered with history file containing the aforementioned documentation, copy old-style continuation logbook (issued 1964), a quantity of old tax discs, VSCC registration/eligibility form and Swansea V5.